HomeQ&ALa lente -- An error in the "Word of the Day" or an ambiguous noun?

La lente -- An error in the "Word of the Day" or an ambiguous noun?


The "Word of the Day" says "El lente" even though in the SD dictionary it says that it is a feminine noun.

1) The bible, R.A.E., says it's "Amb." (Ambos?Ambiguo?).

2) Word Reference Dictionary gives examples for both "El lente" and "La lente."

3) The Reverse Dictionary says it's feminine and uses "La lente."

4) Word Magic Dictionary says it has NO gender, but then goes on to give an example with "una lente."

6) Meli, in the Word of the Day thread, says it's feminine "La(s) lente(s)."

Can either be correct depending on the region? Does it depend on the type of lens?

Thank you in advance for your answers.

updated NOV 25, 2013
edited by --Mariana--
posted by --Mariana--
I hope my answer came through with some clarity!! I quoted it directly from the RAE!!! - Jason7R, JUL 19, 2010
Yes, I accept the RAE over any source. I just didn't find what you did. Great research. :-) - --Mariana--, JUL 19, 2010
Great question, informative answers. - KevinB, JUL 19, 2010
I was totally confused by this as well. And, before I noticed this posting, I posted an asnwer in the word of the day, stating my confusion over this! - Pajaro44, JUL 19, 2010
Thanks for asking this Marianne, I went back and forth with it, - Brynleigh, JUL 19, 2010

5 Answers


I read up in the RAE and it said, "en España se usa en femenino, mientras que en América alternan ambos géneros, con cierta preferencia por el masculino. (the example it gave was)---La distancia entre el foco y el centro óptico de la lente se llama distancia focal. (for España) y (for U.S.)---"Se acerca al intruso camarógrafo e intenta tapar el lente de la cámara".
Long story short depending on where you are using it, it's feminine or masculine. wink Hope this helps!! Great question by the way!!

updated NOV 25, 2013
posted by Jason7R
Thank you so much...that helps a lot, Jason! - --Mariana--, JUL 19, 2010
No worries, my pleasure!! - Jason7R, JUL 19, 2010

U. m. en f.: la lente= más usado en femenino

This would be the one we use in a microscope.

amb. lente provisto de armadura que se coloca cerca del ojo para corregir defectos de la visión. U. m. en pl.

Usado más en plural: gafas

updated DIC 16, 2013
posted by 00494d19
Thanks, Heidi. I got confused because the SD dictionary says "la lente" (with no explanation at all), while the Word of the Day says "el lente." - --Mariana--, JUL 19, 2010
yes, i only just saw, what can I say, ::rolling eyes:: - 00494d19, JUL 19, 2010

Okay, after Jason's and Quentin's wonderful answers, I did some further research and found some other examples of common nouns that change gender depending on who is speaking and where they are from.

They are words of ambiguous gender:

El/la mar

El/la azúcar

El/la sartén

El/la calor

El/la lente

El/la arte

El/la Intenet

El/la tilde

El/la yoga

updated DIC 16, 2013
edited by --Mariana--
posted by --Mariana--
Thanks, I owe it all to the RAE!! Thanks for the ambiguous gender vocab!! I love learning. :) - Jason7R, JUL 19, 2010

Collins Spanish dictionary is just as confusing.

lente: SF (a veces SM)

updated DIC 16, 2013
posted by Eddy
updated NOV 25, 2013
posted by 0074b507
Thanks, Q. I wasn't sure what they were!! - --Mariana--, JUL 19, 2010
Thanks!! Love learning!! It's a journey!! ;) - Jason7R, JUL 19, 2010
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